The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has said that it swiftly initiated several policies and programs for the technology ecosystem and startups to be able to withstand the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
NITDA said it rolled out these initiatives in order to ensure that technology continues to enable innovation and entrepreneurship while addressing challenges of the society.
Speaking at the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) Virtual Innovative Tech Forum Webinar, Director General of the Agency, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi said one of the initiatives, a Tech4COVID-19 Committee, was constituted to identify the challenges the technology ecosystem is facing during the pandemic and propose measures to cushion its effects.
Represented by Director, IT Infrastructure Solutions at NITDA, Dr. Usman Abdullahi, the NITDA DG said: “Members of the Committee were drawn from both the public and private sector and are key players in the Technology ecosystem who have made significant contributions to the Technology and Innovation ecosystem. The Committee’s recommendations include strategies to ensure we retain about 100,000 ICT Jobs as well as create additional 30,000 in Post COVID-19 Era through this initiative.”
Enumerating other initiatives by the Agency, he stated: “We have also held series of Virtual Startup Clinics – we gathered Startups, mostly young people to meet with mentors, successful entrepreneurs, investors, Industry specialist, business consultants and hub operators with the goal of solving problems and challenges they were facing.
“We also organized a special challenge – the Nigeria COVID-19 Innovation Challenge – where Nigerians were challenged to come up with innovation to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic and beyond,” he said.
The agency boss noted that NITDA is partnering with relevant institutions towards actualizing these ideas. “We are also working on a special support scheme for Startups and Hubs – the NITDA Technology Innovation & Entrepreneurship Support Scheme.
According to Abdullahi, “Nigeria has over 130 hubs and several hundreds of technology startups. These have the capacity of driving innovation and entrepreneurship and stimulating the economy.
“The Academia, which has always been at the forefront of research and development, needs to expand its horizon to include innovation.
“We need more hubs in the academia to nurture the creativity of our youths. Collaboratively, we in NITDA are can make Nigeria a nucleus of innovation.”
Abdullahi said that the Agency initiated the National Adopted Village for SMART Agriculture (NAVSA), an ecosystem-driven digital platform where it engages farmers and focuses on using precision/smart farming techniques to ensure significant improvement in efficiency and productivity.
“We are partnering with relevant stakeholders to ensure the success of the scheme. As an example, MTN has developed special packages for smart farmers that come with 4G SIM cards with a one-year internet data subscription. We are also working with other Mobile Network Operators to provide similar services,” he said.
NITDA said that in addition to the numerous capacity building programmes in line with the Digital Literacy and Skills pillar of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, the Virtual Learning Platform of the NITDA Academy for Research and Training that provides access to a wide variety of programmes from industry stakeholders has so far attracted over 33,000 active learners.